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MISSION — Operation Kops for Kids, in its 16thyear, has started accepting donations of toys for children, newborn to 12 years of age. Nearly 1,000 toys were given out during last year’s distribution, Mission Police Department officials said this week.

Residents are encouraged to donate new toys or monetary donations to Kops for Kids at the Mission Police Department, 1200 E. 8th St., until Dec. 20.

MPD Assistant Police Chief Martin Garza said money received goes toward purchasing more gifts for Mission children.

Garza said this program helps the department realize it is worth the sacrifice of being a police officer when they are able to help others in the community.

“This is something we are proud of because we are always dealing with victims and unfortunate stories; but seeing a smile come out of a child makes a great reward,” said Garza.

With Kops for Kids, the Crime Stoppers division and MPD have a chance to not only serve victims, but also those in need. They also have the chance to interact with these families while passing out gifts and watching the children visit with the Mission Crime Stopper’s Santa Claus.

Toys range from small items to bikes. Garza said the group’s goal is to provide a bike to each child in the future. Bikes are limited, but the number available has increased every year, and it can be a hard choice to decide who gets those bikes, said Garza.

This year, police, volunteers and Mission Crime Stoppers also plan to provide toys to children staying at Mission Regional Medical Center during the holidays and make a visit to Mission Nursing Home.

Families in need of a brighter holiday, or residents that know families in need, are encouraged to register for Operation Kops for Kids at MPD or call Amy Tijerina at 956-584-5144. Registrants will be asked to provide their name, address, along with ages and genders of their children.

Drop-off boxes can be found at several businesses throughout the city and city offices, including some Winter Texan parks. For anyone interested in having a drop off box at their location, please call Tijerina.

In Palmhurst, Police Chief Michael Vela said police are trying to collect toys for every student at Midkiff Elementary, roughly 700 kids.

Drop-off boxes are currently set up at Walmart and Walgreen’s in Palmhurst on 3 Mile Line Road and Conway Ave. Boxes are also at Canyon Lake RV Resort on Mayberry Road and J-Five RV Park on Taylor Road.

Vela said Palmhurst police try to help out as many families as they can by doing this toy drive. The City of Palmhurst has already agreed to help the police department reach their goal of 700 gifts, but they are still asking for the help from the community.

Donations of toys will be accepted until Dec. 19. Toys will be distributed on the last week of school. Any leftover toys will be given to children in the more needy neighborhoods in the city. Monetary donations are also accepted.

On Dec. 11, PPD is holding an event at Walgreen’s from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Police will offer finger printing, a free photo with Blue Santa, drinks and hot dogs.

For more information on donating, call the PPD at 956-519-3800.

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